The 17 Best Cat Foods In 2021

Medically reviewed by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

Whether wet, dry, raw, or freshly-cooked, the best cat food honors your cat’s needs as an obligate carnivore.

It’s rich in animal-sourced protein, has the right amount of fatty acids, and doesn’t spike your cat’s blood sugar with excessive carbohydrates.

At a Glance: Best Cat Food to Buy In 2021

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2000 hours of
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54 brands
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17 features
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10 top
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In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article

Top Pick
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9.9

Smalls Cat Food

  • Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
  • Real, high-quality animal protein
  • High in protein and moisture, very low in carbs
Runner Up
9.8

Ziwi Peak Wet Cat Food

  • Contains 92% fresh muscle meat, organs, and bone
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • High-quality source of omega-3 fatty acids
Best Premium
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9.7

Nom Nom Chicken Chow Meow

  • A protein-rich food
  • Primarily made from animal-sourced ingredients
  • Extremely palatable
Budget Wet Cat Food
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9.6

Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food Paté Canned Cat Food

  • Rich in high-protein animal ingredients
  • Receives positive customer reviews
  • A higher-quality alternative to other cheap cat food
Best Dry Cat Food
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9.5

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

  • Rich in nourishing animal protein
  • Extraordinarily low in carbohydrates
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Best Dry Food for Picky Eaters
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9.4

Cat Person Chicken & Turkey Kibble

  • Primarily made with animal-derived protein
  • Free of vaguely-named ingredients
  • Features animal-derived fat instead of plant oils
Best Budget Dry
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9.3

Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Formula Cat Food

  • One of the best affordable foods on the market
  • Contains highly-digestible chicken
  • Has guaranteed levels of probiotic bacteria
Best Air-Dried
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9.2

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel and Lamb Recipe

  • Made from high-quality New Zealand ingredients according to stringent safety regulations
  • High in animal-sourced protein
  • Captures the nutritional intensity of fresh muscle meat, organs, and bones
Best for Allergic Cat
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9.1

Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Very straightforward, simple ingredient list minimizes exposure to potential allergens
  • Contains raw goat’s milk, which may help reduce inflammation
Best for Diabetic Cats
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9.0

Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Cat Food

  • Extremely low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for cats with diabetes
  • A high-moisture, satiating food
  • Doesn’t contain any potentially harmful or irritating ingredients

Why You Should Trust Us

Over the last year, we’ve written in-depth reviews of over 80 cat food brands and hundreds of formulas. We spent hours researching, contacting pet food companies, and analyzing labels. With the help of our cats, we also got hands-on experience with a few foods.

Between reviewing specific brands and researching feline nutrition, we’ve learned which brands and products are worth buying and putting in your cat’s bowl.

Based on that experience, we’ve chosen the 17 products described below as the best cat food you can buy in 2021.

The Best Cat Food on the Market: Our Top Picks

BEST FOOD BLUE

At the top of the list is Smalls Cat Food. It’s hard to beat this wet food’s combination of outstanding protein content, emphasis on animal-sourced ingredients, and exclusion of additives that might harm your cat over time.

Though it satisfies our requirements for the best wet cat food, this product isn’t perfect for everyone. Our product roundup includes options for cats and people of all kinds.

You’ll find raw foods, products well-suited to cats with sensitive stomachs, and options that will help your cat lose weight.

#1 Top Pick: Smalls Cat Food

Smalls Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Smalls
  • Made In: NYC, United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 21% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.00 to $3.50

Smalls is a fresh cat food delivery service that uses human-grade ingredients, including premium proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish. Choose from minced-style recipes or classic pâté to provide your cat with protein-rich, low-carb cat food that’s formulated for cats in all life stages. Though Smalls doesn’t portion out your cat’s meals for you, they do provide detailed feeding recommendations according to your cat’s calorie requirements. Each package of food contains about 16 ounces of food, with markings on the package at 50-calorie increments.

Smalls cat food is delivered frozen, so you’ll need to thaw the package overnight in the fridge first before feeding. Your subscription will be based on your cat’s calorie needs, and you can adjust it as needed by contacting the customer care team.

In addition to their fresh food, Smalls offers a selection of freeze-dried cat foods, treats, and meal toppers. They also recently started selling millet and silica cat litter.

Top Recipe: Smalls Fresh Kills Fresh Minced Chicken

Featuring chicken thigh, breast, and liver as the top three ingredients, this fresh food is packed with premium animal protein. Green beans, peas, and kale are the only carbohydrate ingredients and they are naturally grain-free and rich in nutrients.

In addition to being high in protein and low in carbohydrates, this formula is rich in moisture, which helps with hydration and promotes lean body mass. Overall, this minced chicken recipe is a high-quality source of balanced nutrition for cats in all life stages.

Ingredients:

Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water sufficient for processing, Chicken Heart, Kale, Vegetable Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Gluconate, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate, Niacin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Selenium, Dried Kelp, Biotin, Vitamin B12.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 21.2% Min
  • Crude Fat: 8.05% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0.4% Max
  • Moisture: 66.1% Max
  • Ash: 2.25% Max

What We Liked:

  • Fresh food made with human-grade ingredients
  • High-quality animal protein
  • High in protein very low in carbs
  • Moisture-rich

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not individually portioned for your cat
  • Limited protein options (chicken, turkey, beef)

#2 Runner Up: Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food

Ziwi-Peak-Canned-Venison-Cat

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Ziwi Peak
  • Made In: New Zealand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $8.28/day

Ziwi Peak is a New Zealand-based pet food company that uses ethical and sustainable ingredients, including meat and seafood sourced 100% from New Zealand. Their proteins are farmed without hormones, antibiotics, or growth promotants, and their seafood comes from the world’s top-ranked fisheries. Choose from a wide variety of air dried and wet cat food recipes.

Every Ziwi Peak recipe features high percentages of meat, organs, and seafood, which is in keeping with their PeakPrey ratios. Real meat, poultry, or seafood are the foundations of every formula, and every recipe is free from fillers, artificial preservatives, and high glycemic ingredients.

Top Recipe: Ziwi Peak New Zealand Venison Recipe Cat Food

This protein-packed formula features 100% single-sourced New Zealand lamb. Made with 92% fresh meat, organs, and bone, this recipe is rich in species-appropriate animal protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and natural sources of joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin. It is completely free from low-quality grains, fillers, and artificial additives.

Overall, this recipe provides an excellent source of balanced nutrition for cats in all life stages. It comes in a chunky loaf style recipe with high levels of moisture and enticing pieces of venison.

Ingredients:

Venison, Water Sufficient for Processing, Venison Tripe, Venison Liver, Chickpeas, Venison Lung, Venison Heart, Venison Kidney, New Zealand Green Mussel, Venison Bone, DL-Methionine, Dried Kelp, Minerals (Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex), Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid).

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein – 10% Min
  • Crude Fat – 4% Min
  • Crude Fiber – 2% Max
  • Crude Moisture – 78% Min
  • Crude Ash – 3% Min

What We Liked:

  • Contains 92% fresh muscle meat, organs, and bone
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • A high-quality source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Doesn’t contain any potentially harmful ingredients

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Carbohydrates (chickpeas) aren’t necessary for cats
  • Some cats don’t like the way the food tastes
  • One of the most expensive cat foods you can buy

#3 Best Premium: Nom Nom Chicken Cuisine

Nom Nom Chicken Chow Meow

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Nom Nom
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 18% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2-$6/day

Nom Nom is a cat food meal delivery service that makes and sells human-grade food. Each meal is portioned out according to your cat’s weight, age, and weight goals, then packed into a refrigerated box and shipped to your doorstep.

Nom Nom foods arrive fresh, not frozen. They’re ready to serve right away. You’ll subscribe to a monthly, biweekly, or weekly plan, so you’ll never have to run out of cat food.

If you like the idea of making homemade cat food but don’t feel ready for the time and effort involved, Nom Nom is a convenient alternative.

Nom Nom’s cat food line was introduced in the spring of 2018 and is currently limited to chicken and fish recipes. It’s never been recalled.

Nom Nom’s chicken recipe is made primarily from chicken thighs, breast, and liver, which are species-appropriate sources of protein and other nutrients. In addition to meat, the recipe contains small amounts of fruit and vegetables. On a dry matter basis, this recipe is only 10% carbohydrates.

Ingredients:

Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, carrots, asparagus, cantaloupe, spinach, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, taurine, choline bitartrate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 18% Min
  • Crude Fat: 4% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0.8% Max
  • Moisture: 73% Max

What We Liked:

  • A protein-rich food primarily made from animal-sourced ingredients
  • Extremely palatable—cats love the taste and texture of this fresh food
  • The subscription model gives you access to a team of nutrition experts
  • Human-grade food promises a higher level of quality control
  • Doesn’t contain any common additives that might harm your cat

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains fruit and veggies
  • One of the most expensive foods on the market
  • The subscription model isn’t convenient or accessible for everyone

#4 Best Budget Wet Cat Food: Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food Paté Canned Cat Food

Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food Paté Canned Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Authority Cat Food
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.96/day

At $0.16 per ounce, this food is about the same price as Fancy Feast or Friskies, putting it among the cheapest canned foods on the market. Unlike many foods at the same price point, it doesn’t contain any animal or poultry by-products. Instead, it’s composed of chicken, liver, and ocean fish. Aside from the vaguely-named fish, there’s no mystery about what this food is made of.

There’s another way that this food is different from other cheap cat food—it doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The food is thickened with guar gum and doesn’t contain any carrageenan or other common inflammatory additives.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Ocean Fish, Brewers Rice, Dried Egg Product, Guar Gum, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Brewers Dried Yeast, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite).

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 10% Min
  • Crude Fat: 6.5% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0.8% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max

What We Liked:

  • A higher-quality alternative to other cheap cat food
  • Rich in high-protein animal ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain any potentially harmful artificial additives
  • Contains menhaden fish oil as a source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids
  • Receives positive customer reviews

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains vaguely-named ocean fish

#5 Best Dry Cat Food: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Brand Name: Dr. Elsey’s
  • Made In: United States
  • Food Form: Dry Food
  • Guaranteed Protein: 59% Min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.80/day

This food is a refreshing switch from the high-carbohydrate content and gobs of plant protein found in typical dry foods. Instead, it’s made primarily from chicken, egg, pork protein isolate, and other sources of species-appropriate nutrition. While other foods rely on high-carbohydrate binders like corn, wheat, soy, and potatoes, this food uses gelatin as its primary binding agent.

Overall, the food provides carnivore-appropriate nutrition with plenty of protein, species-appropriate fat, and not a lot of carbohydrates.

The food’s meaty makeup makes it more calorie-dense and efficient than most dry foods. You’ll feed your cat less and see reduced waste in the litter box.

On Chewy, 93% of customers say they’d recommend the food to a friend. It receives primarily positive customer reviews, with most customers saying their cats love the way it tastes. The biggest complaint about this food is its price—it’s considerably more expensive than your typical dry cat food.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharide, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Taurine, Salt, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 59% Min
  • Crude Fat: 18% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 4% Max
  • Moisture: 12% Max

What We Liked:

  • Rich in nourishing animal protein
  • Features chicken fat and salmon oil as sources of the fatty acids that cats need
  • Extraordinarily low in carbohydrates, compared to other dry foods
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Like all dry foods, this product fails to provide the moisture that cats need
  • Expensive compared to other dry foods

#6 Best Dry Food for Picky Eaters: Cat Person Chicken & Turkey Kibble

Cat Person Chicken & Turkey Kibble
  • Brand Name: Cat Person
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 40% min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.68/day

If your cat’s a picky eater, Cat Person’s selection of dry foods may be a good option. This company prepares wet and dry food and sells it direct-to-consumer in customized meal plans or à la carte. Their dry food selection includes three recipes, featuring combinations of chicken and turkey, duck and turkey, and salmon and tuna as primary protein sources.

Cat Person dry foods are made in facilities that double as human food processing plants, meaning that they are likely held to higher quality standards than are typical products for pets.

Ingredient quality and manufacturing standards aside, Cat Person kibble isn’t particularly nutritionally impressive. That said, they may be a good choice for finicky felines who have tried everything else.

Top Recipe: Cat Person Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Cat Food

The food is composed of petite disc-shaped kibble pieces mixed with chewy chunks that Cat Person calls “chicken chunks”. Presumably made with dehydrated chicken, these chunks add some textural variety to the kibble. For texture-driven cats, this boosts the food’s appeal.

The ingredient list is slim and straightforward, without much besides meat, peas, and supplements.

The food is 64% chicken and turkey, with peas and pea protein constituting a generous 24% of the recipe. Aside from meat and peas, a combination of chicken fat and salmon oil serve as species-appropriate sources of fatty acids, while flaxseed and dried tomato pomace add fiber to the recipe.

According to the guaranteed analysis, this food is at least 50% protein and 25% fat, with roughly 32.5% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis.

Overall, it’s not one of the most species-appropriate foods on the market, even compared to other dry products, but it’s an upgrade from by-product-laden kibble products that offer more starch than substance. If you’re struggling to find a dry food that tickles your cat’s taste buds, this one is worth a try.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Turkey, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Glycerine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Taurine, Cane Molasses, Lactic Acid, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Citric Acid (Used As A Preservative), Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 40% Min
  • Crude Fat: 20% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 4.0% Max
  • Moisture: 10% Max

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made with animal-derived protein
  • Free of vaguely-named ingredients
  • Features animal-derived fat instead of plant oils
  • Doesn’t contain any of the most common irritating additives
  • Cats seem to like the way this food tastes

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains pea protein, a concentrated source of plant protein
  • A high-carbohydrate food
  • Doesn’t have the moisture your cat needs

#7 Best Budget Dry: Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Formula Cat Food

Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Formula Cat Food
  • Brand Name: Kirkland Signature
  • Made In: United States
  • Food Form: Dry Food
  • Guaranteed Protein: 30% Min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.14/day

If our number one dry food is out of your price range, you might prefer this product from Kirkland Signature. While it’s no exception to the rule of high-carbohydrate dry food, it does a few things differently from other cheap foods.

It doesn’t contain any low-value by-products or mystery meals, instead featuring chicken and chicken meal as its primary ingredients. It contains probiotics to support digestive health and doesn’t contain any of the artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives you might expect to find in an economy kibble.

Ingredients:

Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, ground white rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, sodium bisulfate, potassium chloride, choline chloride, taurine, dried chicory root, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 30% Min
  • Crude Fat: 20% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 3% Max
  • Moisture: 10% Max

What We Liked:

  • One of the best affordable foods on the market
  • Features more animal-sourced proteins than any plant-sourced ingredients
  • Contains highly-digestible chicken
  • Has guaranteed levels of probiotic bacteria

What We Didn’t Like:

  • High carbohydrate content may contribute to high blood sugar and diabetes
  • Moisture-depleted

#8 Best Air-Dried: Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel and Lamb Recipe

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel and Lamb Recipe
  • Brand Name: Ziwi Peak
  • Made In: New Zealand
  • Food Form: Air-Dried
  • Guaranteed Protein: 43% Min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.50/day

If you like the convenience of dry food but don’t like the carbs and low-quality ingredients present in so many kibble products, you might like this option from Ziwi Peak.

By air-drying meat instead of extruding it, Ziwi Peak manages to lock in more nutrition and use fewer supplemental ingredients. The result is a nutrient-dense, meat-focused food with minimal carbohydrate content. You get the nutrition of raw food and the convenience of kibble packed into one crunchy food.

In addition to mackerel, lamb muscle meat, tripe, liver, lung, and bone, the food contains green-lipped mussel as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a species-appropriate, nourishing food that packs a punch.

Ingredients:

Mackerel, Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver, Lamb Lung, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Kidney, Lamb Bone, Lecithin, Inulin from Chicory, Dried Kelp, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Salt, Preservative (Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), DL-Methionine, Taurine.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 43% Min
  • Crude Fat: 25% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 2% Max
  • Moisture: 14% Max

What We Liked:

  • Made from high-quality New Zealand ingredients according to stringent safety regulations
  • High in animal-sourced protein
  • Captures the nutritional intensity of fresh muscle meat, organs, and bones
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • A very efficient food, translating to less waste

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Low moisture content may lead to urinary health problems and chronic dehydration

#9 Best for Allergic Cat: Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food Review

Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Vital Essentials
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 52% Min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.50/day

This straightforward, rabbit-centric recipe is a winning option for cats with food allergies. It contains nothing but rabbit meat, organs, and bones with water, goat’s milk, herring oil, and tocopherols as preservatives.

Raw goat’s milk contains enzymes that help digest lactose, eliminating concerns about lactose intolerance.

The benefits of raw goat’s milk aren’t clear, but proponents name several benefits for cats with allergies. Raw goat’s milk is a source of caprylic acid, which may help fight yeast buildup as a symptom of allergies.

While advocates of raw milk claim that it’s a natural antihistamine, it doesn’t appear that its benefits go quite that far. It does appear, however, that people who drink raw milk as children have a lower risk of developing allergies or asthma later in life.

Herring oil is added as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can reduce inflammation and promote skin and coat health, helping to soothe and heal itchy skin.

Tocopherols are organic compounds that have the same activity as vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and is an essential nutrient for cats.

Ingredients

Finely Ground Whole Rabbit, Rabbit Heart, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Lungs, Rabbit Kidney, Rabbit Trachea, Rabbit Blood, Raw Goat’s Milk, Water, Herring Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, D-Alpha Tocopherol.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 52% Min
  • Crude Fat: 15% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 3% Max
  • Moisture: 8% Max

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Very straightforward, simple ingredient list minimizes exposure to potential allergens
  • Contains raw goat’s milk, which may help reduce inflammation
  • Features herring oil as a source of soothing omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not all cats enjoy the rabbit taste
  • Expensive

#10 Best for Sensitive Stomach: Hound & Gatos 98% Chicken & Chicken Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Hound & Gatos 98% Chicken & Chicken Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Hound & Gatos
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.18/day

If your cat suffers from chronic digestive issues—frequent vomiting, diarrhea, and hairballs are all examples of GI inflammation—a simple, easy-to-digest diet may help. If your cat suffers from the chronic inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), this type of diet could help manage the condition and give your cat much-needed GI relief.

Regardless of how your cat’s sensitive stomach manifests, this food from Hound & Gatos may help. It addresses digestive issues on several fronts. First, it’s primarily made from highly-digestible animal ingredients. Also, it contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. And with no common irritants on the ingredient list, the food shouldn’t make things worse in your cat’s GI tract.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Salmon Oil, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 10% Min
  • Crude Fat: 9% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 1% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max

What We Liked:

  • Rich in highly-digestible protein
  • A single protein source makes this food ideal for cats with food intolerances
  • Contains salmon oil, a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Well-rated among cats with IBD and other digestive issues
  • Low carbohydrate content

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Some cats don’t like the taste of Hound & Gatos cat food
  • Expensive compared to dry foods and some wet foods

#11 Best for Diabetic Cats: Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Cat Food

Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Tiki Cat
  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 17% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.78/day

The best cat food for diabetic cats could be a more powerful asset than any other tool in your diabetes control kit. Feeding your cat a low-carbohydrate diet can lower your cat’s blood glucose and reduce his reliance on insulin. With a combination of tight glucose control, weight loss, and a low-carb diet, some diabetic cats go into remission and no longer need insulin at all.

That’s why we recommend Tiki Cat Hookena Luau as the best food for diabetic cats. Its moisture-packed consistency helps to keep your cat satisfied without a lot of calories. When your cat can eat more and take in fewer calories, his weight loss journey is going to be a lot easier.

In addition to helping your cat lose weight, the food is radically low in carbs. It’s roughly 1.3% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis, which puts it well within the under-10% category preferred for diabetic cats.

Ingredients:

Chicken Broth, Tuna, Chicken, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Tuna Fish Oil, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Iron Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 17% Min
  • Crude Fat: 3% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max

What We Liked:

  • Extremely low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for cats with diabetes
  • A high-moisture, satiating food
  • Doesn’t contain any potentially harmful or irritating ingredients
  • Rich in nourishing animal protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains sunflower seed oil instead of a beneficial animal fat
  • Low fat content isn’t right for every cat

#12 Best for Seniors: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Dr. Elsey’s
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 11% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.24/day

After the metabolism slump of middle age, senior cats have higher calorie and protein needs than ever before.

When cats don’t get enough protein, they start losing muscle mass, feeling weaker, and becoming frail. To counteract this, it’s a good idea to give your older cat a protein-rich diet loaded with clean, high-quality protein.

We’re looking to maximize digestibility while reducing the amount of waste, which may burden the delicate kidneys.

Because it’s rich in highly-digestible protein, we recommend Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula canned cat food as the best cat food for seniors. With turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver the first ingredients, this food has all the animal-sourced protein your cat needs to stay strong and lean.

Additionally, the food contains several anti-inflammatory ingredients, including salmon oil and dried New Zealand green mussels. Both of these ingredients are rich in omega-3 fatty acids in their most biologically available form. In addition to nurturing healthy skin, omega-3s can relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, a condition common among senior cats.

Of course, this food isn’t perfect for all seniors. If, for example, your cat is diagnosed with kidney disease or hyperthyroidism, you’ll be better off looking for a diet formulated for your cat’s condition.

Ingredients:

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Agar-Agar, Barley Grass, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Salmon Oil, Turmeric, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 11% Min
  • Crude Fat: 9% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 1.50% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max

What We Liked:

  • Rich in easily-digested animal protein
  • Contains multiple sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • A moisture-rich, hydrating canned food
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains agar-agar, a high-iodine ingredient that might contribute to hyperthyroidism in senior cats
  • May not be appropriate for seniors with kidney disease

#13 Best for Urinary Health: Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau Succulent Chicken

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Tiki Cat
  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 16% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.32/day

Veterinarians, nutritionists, and other experts agree that high-moisture diets are the best choice for feline lower urinary tract disease prevention.

Depending on the cause of your cat’s urinary tract disease, cats may thrive on a diet made to control struvite or calcium oxalate crystals.

In short, choose a food that’s not dry, even if it’s a prescription formula for urinary tract health. Once you’ve gotten that basic requirement, you can start thinking about other factors, like the food’s pH and ash content.

Also Read: 7 Best Cat Foods For Urinary Tract Health

This recipe from Tiki Cat is low in ash, which will help lower the risk of urinary crystal formation. This recipe also has enough moisture to flush the urinary tract and has a species-appropriate pH that won’t cause crystal formation.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin K3 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 16% Min
  • Crude Fat: 2.6% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0% Max
  • Moisture: 80% Max

What We Liked:

  • Rich in nourishing animal protein
  • High moisture content helps to flush the urinary tract
  • Low ash shouldn’t contribute to crystal formation
  • Species-appropriate pH helps keep things in balance 

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains sunflower oil instead of species-appropriate animal fat
  • Low fat content isn’t right for every cat

#14 Best Raw: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food

Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels
  • Brand Name: Stella & Chewy’s
  • Made In: United States
  • Food Form: Freeze-Dried
  • Guaranteed Protein: 45% Min
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.80/day

Stella and Chewy’s is one of the leading companies in raw cat food—their foods are affordable, varied, and taste great. While their foods are also available in frozen varieties, we like the convenience of freeze-dried food.

This freeze-dried recipe is primarily made from rabbit meat, organs, and bones. Rabbit is a feline favorite and often a good option for cats suffering from food sensitivities and allergies. Along with rabbit, this recipe contains prebiotics and probiotics to keep your cat’s digestive system healthy and their immune system strong.

Also Read: 10 Best Probiotics for Cats

With its meat-first ingredient list and minimal carbohydrate content, this is a species-appropriate choice that embodies the value of raw cat food.

Ingredients:

Rabbit With Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver, Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Dried Ediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Dandelion, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 44% Min
  • Crude Fat: 30% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 5% Max
  • Moisture: 5% Max

What We Liked:

  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Contains guaranteed levels of probiotics to support the immune system and digestive health
  • Added prebiotic fiber helps to prevent the constipation that some raw-fed cats experience
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Doesn’t contain any potentially harmful additives 

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Freeze-dried food takes a few minutes to rehydrate
  • Some cats don’t like the rabbit taste

#15 Best for Weight Loss: Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender Cat Food

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Love Me Tender Cat Food

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Weruva
  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 9% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.70/day

Overweight cats are often prescribed low-fat, low-protein diets. These foods are often dry, meaning that they’re moisture-depleted and not particularly satisfying. While this type of food can help your cat reach a healthy weight, it often does so at the expense of his satisfaction and muscle density.

To maintain healthy muscle density, it’s important to maintain a hearty protein percentage while cutting back on carbohydrates and potentially reducing the amount of fat in the food.

Free-feeding is the enemy of weight loss, so any overweight cat should switch to eating at least two meals each day.

Because a satisfying, high-moisture diet helps to make weight management easy, we recommend this juicy food from Weruva. The recipe is moisture-rich, protein-packed, and relatively low in fat. The pouched format helps to make portion control easy.

Ingredients:

Water Sufficient For Processing, Chicken (Boneless, Skinless Breast), Tuna, Duck, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Seed Oil, Calcium Lactate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 9% Min
  • Crude Fat: 1.4% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0.5% Max
  • Moisture: 85% Max

What We Liked:

  • Relatively low in calories
  • Contains the protein your cat needs to maintain lean muscle mass
  • A moisture-rich, satisfying meal
  • Doesn’t contain any potentially harmful additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains sunflower seed oil instead of species-appropriate animal fat

#16 Best for Weight Gain: Wellness CORE Chicken, Turkey, & Liver Recipe

Wellness CORE Chicken, Turkey, & Liver Recipe

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Wellness CORE
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.24/day

With 213 calories in each 5.5-ounce can, this food is one of the most calorie-dense products on the market. It’s rich in the highly-digestible protein cats need to maintain lean muscle mass—chicken, turkey, chicken liver, chicken meal, and turkey liver appear early on the ingredient list. The food also contains animal-sourced fat from salmon oil, which helps to nourish almost every part of your cat’s body.

The food’s smooth pâté texture makes it easy to eat, even for cats that have dental health problems.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Meal, Turkey Liver, Dried Ground Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 13% Min
  • Crude Fat: 7% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 0.5% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max

What We Liked:

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein for lean muscle mass
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • One of the most calorie-dense foods you can buy
  • Doesn’t contain carrageenan or other potentially harmful ingredients 

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains dried potatoes, a high-carbohydrate ingredient

#17 Best Kitten Food: Wellness CORE Kitten Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Classic Pate Review

Wellness CORE Kitten Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Classic Pate Review

Overview:

  • Brand Name: Wellness CORE
  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: Kitten
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $1.14/day

This Wellness CORE food has everything we look for in kitten food. It’s loaded with nourishing animal protein from turkey, chicken liver, chicken muscle meat, and chicken meal.

Also Read: Best Wet Food For Kittens

Herring and menhaden fish oil make the food a good source of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that contributes to brain and eye development. With 108 calories per can, it’s calorie-dense enough to fuel your kitten’s growth and development.

Ingredients:

Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Herring, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Menhaden Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Crude Protein: 12% Min
  • Crude Fat: 7.5% Min
  • Crude Fiber: 1% Max
  • Moisture: 78% Max

What We Liked:

  • Ultra-soft pâté texture is easy for kittens to eat
  • Rich in protein and calories
  • Hydrating canned food
  • Supplemented with fish oil as a species-appropriate source of DHA

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients

What Did We Look For In The Best Cat Food?

Choosing great food involves a variety of factors, including company reputation, ingredient quality, and more.

Here’s what we looked for when choosing the top 17 best cat foods on the market.

First, We Looked For Foods With Low Carbohydrate Content.

Cats use a process called gluconeogenesis to convert protein into glucose. Unlike in people, it is protein, not carbohydrate matter, which is the main type of fuel used to maintain a cat’s blood glucose concentrations.

Cats can metabolize carbohydrates instead of protein, but it’s not ideal. Cats are mildly insulin resistant, similar to a person with diabetes. And sustained carbohydrate intake could make your cat more likely to develop diabetes over time.

So How Much Carbohydrate Matter Does A Cat Need?

None. Carbohydrate concentrations between 1 and 10% won’t harm your cat, but anything more is a threat to your cat’s health. Excess carbohydrates can lead to problems like obesity and digestive issues.

Now, finding foods with low carbohydrate content is trickier than it sounds. Unlike a jar of peanut butter or a loaf of bread, cat food labels don’t tell you how many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving. They don’t tell you anything about the carbohydrate content.

The best way to avoid high-carbohydrate foods is by looking for products that don’t contain anything starchy. Read the ingredient list and rule out anything that contains potatoes, wheat, soy, peas, or other high-carbohydrate products.

If you want more details, you can contact the company and ask about carbohydrate content. Alternatively, use a carbohydrate calculator like this one to get a rough estimate.

We Chose Foods That Were Rich In High-quality Protein.

Cats need a lot of protein. But it’s more complicated than just looking for high-protein food. Instead, we also have to think about the quality of that protein. When choosing the best cat food, we paid attention to the difference between crude protein and digestible protein.

Protein exists on a digestibility spectrum rated by biological value. 

For example, 36g of crude protein from feathers is not equivalent to 36g of crude protein from an egg – they have vastly different biological values. An egg has a biological value of 100 (making it highly digestible), while the feather is virtually indigestible.

Yet both the feather protein and the egg protein look lovely on the guaranteed analysis and lend the impression of a high-quality food capable of nourishing your cat.

Digestibility values, not percentages in the guaranteed analysis, are key to measuring nutritional value.

To make things a little more interesting, we don’t know everything about protein digestibility in cats. No one has figured out exactly which protein sources are the most bioavailable or the least. Instead, we’re left to put together a picture based on what scarce information is available.

We avoided foods that contained animal by-products.

Animal by-products are one of the most misunderstood ingredients in cat food.

Most people have responded to the AAFCO definition of byproducts with the same sort of nausea that you might feel if served a platter of these ingredients at a restaurant. And yet much of the products that fall into the definition of by-products are highly-nourishing parts of an animal carcass that your cat would love to eat. And there’s nothing disgusting about that.

Digestibility and quality control are the real problems with animal by-products. These vaguely-specified ingredients may be produced from any number of animal parts from any number of different animals.

A former AAFCO president once emphasized how loosely regulated these ingredients are by stating that “You don’t know if it’s cattle or sheep or horse – or Fluffy.”

Besides not knowing what type of animals contributed to the by-product stew, you don’t know if it contains more wholesome liver or nutritionally void chicken feet. If you want to ensure maximum protein digestibility, avoid meat by-products and other vaguely-named ingredients like “meat”, “poultry”, and “meat and bone meal”.

We Looked for Foods that Kept Plant Protein to a Minimum.

While it’s unclear exactly where each source of plant protein lies on the digestibility spectrum, we do know that protein from peas, potatoes, and other plants is less efficient than that from animal ingredients. While a single prey animal offers all the amino acids a cat needs, plant ingredients need to be combined with animal protein and synthetic additives to recreate that mix of amino acids.

Furthermore, many cat guardians report that their cats have less waste when they’re eating a diet composed primarily of animal-sourced protein.

What About Vegan and Vegetarian Cat Food?

It’s understandable to have misgivings about the impact of the livestock industry and the amount of meat used to produce pet food. While we don’t recommend any vegan foods, you can learn more about them in this article.

Many cats seem to do well on vegan food. A combination of plant ingredients and synthetic additives are capable of, at least according to our current understanding, recreating the mix of nutrients your carnivore requires. But it may be foolish to believe that we can recreate a perfect facsimile of the nutritional profile found in cats’ prey. Doing so may lead to unexpected nutritional deficiencies or overloads.

We Gave Preference to Moisture-rich Foods that Keep Your Cat Hydrated.

Our cats’ ancestors were desert dwellers. They lived in arid environments where fresh prey was often the best source of moisture. A mouse is about 70% water and a fine source of hydration for a desert cat hours away from the nearest watering hole.

Because fresh water was scarce, early wild cats evolved to have low thirst drives and a natural inclination to get their water from the moisture-rich bodies of their prey. This means that they typically don’t drink enough water to compensate for moisture-depleted dry food.

We Looked for Foods That Were Free of Potentially Harmful Ingredients and Additives.

The best cat food is free of carrageenan.

This natural seaweed extract is a great binder and thickener for canned cat food, but it has a bad reputation. Studies have shown that carrageenan creates inflammation in the body and may exacerbate cancer.

The best cat food doesn’t contain artificial ingredients.

Artificial flavors are unnecessary if the food is made with nourishing meat ingredients. No cat needs artificial colors. In addition to being unnecessary, food dyes are tied to behavioral issues and cancer development in both humans and animals.

BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are popular preservatives that are associated with serious problems. Most pet foods have replaced them with natural alternatives including Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), rosemary extract, and other antioxidants. Although ethoxyquin rarely appears on the ingredient list, it may enter your cat food as a fish preservative.

We Looked for Brands with Excellent Reputations.

Remember that you’re relying on the cat food company to provide your cat the nutrition they need to stay healthy and vibrant – potentially for the rest of their life.

You need a company and a brand that you can trust. While it doesn’t tell us everything about the brand, a company’s recall history provides key insights into its ethics, safety standards, and the quality of its products.

If a company faces voluntary, or worse—mandatory—recalls every five years, purchasing from that company could subject your cat to three or more potentially harmful slip-ups during their lifetime.

A communicative, transparent company isn’t afraid to share information with their customers. We gauged the quality of cat food companies by contacting their customer support lines and evaluating their customer service. We gave preference to companies that responded promptly and were willing to provide key information.

Additionally, we paid attention to what other customers were saying about the brand. Through social media, blogging, reviews on retail platforms, and sites like Consumer Reports, consumers can easily share their complaints or praises with the world.

We read these reviews and used them to assess the customer experience.

Understanding Cat Food Labels and Marketing

Natural, Organic, and Human Grade: Are They Meaningless Buzzwords?

Until recently, the description “scientifically formulated” was a popular pet food marketing catchphrase. People wanted to imagine their cat’s food as being formulated by scientists in a sterile laboratory.

Today’s cat food consumer has a different ideal. They’re looking for food that’s gently crafted, fresh from the farm, non-GMO, natural, and based on real meat. Thanks to the ‘back to nature’ trend, the number of natural or organic cat food labels has skyrocketed. Numerous brands capitalize on the “premium natural food” concept.

But are they healthy for your cat?

Natural

The “natural” label is loosely defined and lightly regulated. FDA guidelines dictate that any food bearing the “natural” label must be manufactured without undergoing any chemical alterations.

Also Read: Best Holistic Cat Food: Our Top 5 Picks

Organic

The organic label, however, has some legitimacy.

The National Organic Program defines organic products as those “produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.”

But while the term “organic” does mean something in terms of the ingredients your cat’s food contains, it doesn’t tell you a lot about how nutritious that food is. Organic foods can be just as species-inappropriate and unwholesome as anything else on the cat food shelf. You’ll just pay a little more for them.

Also Read: Best Organic Cat Food

Human Grade

To earn “human grade” status, pet food must start with human-quality ingredients. But ingredient quality isn’t the end of the story. To keep its human-grade status, a food must be manufactured in a USDA-inspected human food processing facility. The manufacturing facility is a vital part of this story. Any ingredient, once processed in a pet food manufacturing plant, is legally considered “feed grade”.

So human-grade food isn’t necessarily made from better ingredients. This distinction, currently only held by a few brands, gives you an added level of confidence about the quality of a food’s ingredients, handling, storage, and safety.

Do Life Stages Matter When You’re Choosing Cat Food?

Yes and no. Choose foods that meet AAFCO nutritional guidelines for either growth, all life stages, or adult maintenance.

Kittens and pregnant or lactating cats should eat food formulated for growth or all life stages. Adults—cats over the age of one—should eat meals formulated for all life stages or adult maintenance.

Other than these three categories, you don’t need to choose your cat’s food based on life stages. Seniors, for example, don’t usually need a senior-specific food. Most of these labeling ploys are in the same league as indoor cat food, hairball food, and breed-specific formulations.

They’re easy to buy and feel like a little bit of personalization, but they jump straight to the personal details without nailing nutrition basics. How can you address the unique needs of a 7-year-old indoor-outdoor Persian without first acknowledging the fact that she’s a carnivore?

Is Grain-free Cat Food Better or Worse?

When we originally published this article in 2018, the grain-free trend was reaching its peak. Right around the same time, the FDA quietly began an investigation that would turn the trend on its head.

While we don’t have the answers about the potential connection between grain-free foods and dilated cardiomyopathy, we do know that grain was never the problem. Cats don’t need to avoid grain or gluten. They need to avoid excessive carbohydrates.

Grain-free foods often replace grain with an unhealthy dose of biologically inappropriate ingredients like potatoes and peas. Now that those ingredients are losing their appeal, the solution isn’t to go back to grains. The solution is avoiding plant ingredients.

Also Read: 10 Best Grain Free Cat Foods

Are Prescription Diets Good for Cats?

There is no law saying that prescription foods can be sold only with a veterinarian’s prescription. They are not drugs or medication. They’re food.

Quoting the FDA/CVM Communications Staff Deputy Director: “‘Prescription diet’ is an industry-coined term and holds no legal meaning.”

In many cases, prescription foods are perfect for the condition for which they’re marketed. Some prescription cat foods, however, are no better than the average food sold on a grocery store shelf.

A particularly ironic example is prescription dry food for urinary tract health. Because dry food can promote urinary tract disease, this marketing slant adds insult to injury. The final word on prescription cat food is that it can be both good or bad. Stay skeptical and evaluate each product on an individual basis. If you’re unsure about evaluating prescription food options on your own, your veterinarian can help you.

Whether You Choose One Of Our Top Picks Or Another Product, Look For Foods That Honor Your Cat’s Carnivorous Needs.

Choosing the right cat food is simple when you understand the fundamentals of species-appropriate nutrition. Cats are obligate carnivores who could thrive on a diet of raw prey alone. Regardless of brand, price, or format, the best foods resemble that prey-centric diet.

Want More? Browse Our Dozens Of Unbiased Reviews And Detailed Guides

Additional Resources:

About the author


Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best dry cat food?

The best dry cat food is rich in animal-derived protein, low in carbohydrate content, and made from high-quality ingredients. Some of the best dry cat food brands include Ziwi Peak, Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein, and Tiki Cat Born Carnivore.

What is the best wet cat food?

The best wet cat food honors your cat’s needs as a carnivore. It’s a meat-rich product that delivers all the protein, fat, and micronutrients your cat needs without a lot of plants and starch. A few of our favorite brands include Feline Natural, Hound & Gatos, and Nom Nom.

What is the best healthiest cat food?

The healthiest cat food is nutritionally complete and balanced, emphasizing meat over plants and protein over starch. Look for expert-formulated recipes that were made with carnivores in mind.

Is dry or wet food best for cats?

Because it’s more hydrating and typically lower in carbohydrates, wet food is best for cats. A dry diet is convenient, but it could increase your cat’s chances of developing urinary tract disease or diabetes over time.

14 thoughts on “The 17 Best Cat Foods In 2021

  1. AvatarAdmin

    Wonderful review article. Very important and helpful article. I found a lot of information from this share.
    Thanks, for sharing such an informative article.
    Hopefully, waiting for your more article in the future.

    Reply
  2. Avatardog vitamins

    Hello. Interesting article.
    I have a cat who is very picky about food. He will not eat any food. And that’s a problem for me.
    I already tried to buy him 9 different feeds. My cat only eats new food at the beginning, and then does not want to eat it. My cat only eats wet food and no more.
    Thanks to your article, I now have a large selection of good cat food. I liked the food from these manufacturers Feline Natural and Authority Cat Food. I will try to buy them for my cat.

    Reply
    1. AvatarTanya Little

      Try mixing some dry with wet. My cats prefer wet but it digests to fast and they want to eat more times a day so I mix it to get them to eat more dry food.

      Reply
  3. AvatarArko ZHhtr

    I have a cat who is very picky about food. He will not eat any food. And that’s a problem for me.
    I already tried to buy him 9 different feeds. My cat only eats new food at the beginning, and then does not want to eat it. My cat only eats wet food and no more.
    Thanks to your article, I now have a large selection of good cat food. I liked the food from these manufacturers Feline Natural and Authority Cat Food. I will try to buy them for my cat. Best Pet Foods

    Reply
  4. AvatarLee Kam Yen

    Thank you so much Mallory for the comprehensive review for which I have been guided in q myriad of products and advertising!

    Reply
  5. AvatarSieg Mills

    My senior cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease. My Vet recommended that I buy prescription food, but after spending about $200., he doesn’t like it at all. With all this info, I’m still confused as to what to try. I have 2 other cats and offer them a variety of dry and canned food, so Oliver also eats some of that, or he’s starve. It’s so frustrating that they charge ridiculous prices when it has no medicine in it!! I’ll go back and read about the kidney food again, do you have any new recommendations since it is now 2020?? Something non-prescription??

    Reply
  6. AvatarReid Yanik

    On my way to pick up my new Russian Blue kitten. Thank you for the great information. Do cats do better staying with the same brands? Or, is variety OK?

    Reply

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